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Preview: Africa Unchained

Emergent Africa

Inspired by George Ayittey's book 'Africa Unchained'.

Updated: 2016-09-28T20:38:45.353-04:00


Could Ancient Remedies Hold the Answer to the Looming Antibiotics Crisis?


More on revaluating the indigenous knowledge space, Ferris Jabr writing in the NYTimes:
By Franz Eugen Köhler, Köhler's Medizinal-Pflanzen - List of Koehler Images, Public Domain,
One researcher thinks the drugs of the future might come from the past: botanical treatments long overlooked by Western medicine.
More here

Where The Road Leads - A Poetry Album


From Echezonachukwu Nduka over at Brittle Paper:
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"We need a critical mass of scientists and engineers" to develop.


From UNESCO a conversation with the president of AUST,Wole Soboyejo:
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Medicinal smoke may have a broad range of therapeutic applications and benefits


Further proof of the need to re-examine a number indigenous practices more closely.A paper by Abdolali Mohagheghzadeh, Pouya Faridi, Mohammadreza Shams-Ardakani and Younes Ghasemi:
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All through time, humans have used smoke of medicinal plants to cure illness. To the best of our knowledge, the ethnopharmacological aspects of natural products' smoke for therapy and health care have not been studied. Mono- and multi-ingredient herbal and non-herbal remedies administered as smoke from 50 countries across the 5 continents are reviewed. Most of the 265 plant species of mono-ingredient remedies studied belong to Asteraceae (10.6%), followed by Solanaceae (10.2%), Fabaceae (9.8%) and Apiaceae (5.3%). The most frequent medical indications for medicinal smoke are pulmonary (23.5%), neurological (21.8%) and dermatological (8.1%). Other uses of smoke are not exactly medical but beneficial to health, and include smoke as a preservative or a repellent and the social use of smoke. The three main methods for administering smoke are inhalation, which accounts for 71.5% of the indications; smoke directed at a specific organ or body part, which accounts for 24.5%; ambient smoke (passive smoking), which makes up the remaining 4.0%. Whereas inhalation is typically used in the treatment of pulmonary and neurological disorders and directed smoke in localized situations, such as dermatological and genito-urinary disorders, ambient smoke is not directed at the body at all but used as an air purifier. The advantages of smoke-based remedies are rapid delivery to the brain, more efficient absorption by the body and lower costs of production. This review highlights the fact that not enough is known about medicinal smoke and that a lot of natural products have potential for use as medicine in the smoke form. Furthermore, this review argues in favor of medicinal smoke extended use in modern medicine as a form of drug delivery and as a promising source of new active natural ingredients.

On Somaliland’s Sovereignty


A post by Ahmed M.I. Egal

Nairobi’s vibrant art market points to a boom


The FT reports:

Art-Science Collaborations : Change of perspective


Sheila Mulrooney Eldred writing in Nature:
Pick up a lump of clay or stare at a Leonardo water drawing — your science, not just your frame of mind, will benefit from it.
More here

Africa’s regulators are smothering its innovators


Calestous Juma writing in Quartz:
Much legislative reform on innovation in Africa creates new bureaucratic structures which are the least useful in spurring innovation.
More here

Lalle, Anella, and Fudden: Henna in West Africa


From Eshkol haKofer:
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Henna has been a part of West African culture for at least a thousand years. While it is likely that henna has been growing in North Africa as early as the Roman period, the oldest record that we have of henna in the region of West Africa is from the medieval Andalusi geographer al-Bakri (ca. 1014-1094), who writes in his book Kitāb al-Masālik wa-al-Mamālik (The Book of Roads and Kingdoms):
More here

via Ayiba

African Writing Systems - Where Do We Go From Here?


Amenuti Narmer writing in Grandmother Africa:
image via
Ancient Africa has the world’s oldest and largest collection of ancient writing systems. Evidence of such dates to pre-historic time, and can be found in various regions of the continent. By contrast, continental Europe’s oldest writing, Greek, was not fully in use until c. 1400 BC (a clay tablet found in Iklaina, Greece) and is largely derived from an older African script called Proto-Sinaitic.

The oldest Asian writing, Proto-Cuneiform, dates to around 3000 BC (clay texts found at Jemdet Nasr). However, the oldest known African writing systems are several centuries older...[more]

"#1 Spice." Starring Lupita Nyong'o


From Okay Africa:
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Beyond Timbuktu - An Intellectual History of Muslim West Africa


A book by Ousmane Oumar Kane:
...Renowned for its madrassas and archives of rare Arabic manuscripts, Timbuktu is famous as a great center of Muslim learning from Islam’s Golden Age. Yet Timbuktu is not unique. It was one among many scholarly centers to exist in precolonial West Africa. Beyond Timbuktu charts the rise of Muslim learning in West Africa from the beginning of Islam to the present day, examining the shifting contexts that have influenced the production and dissemination of Islamic knowledge—and shaped the sometimes conflicting interpretations of Muslim intellectuals—over the course of centuries...[more]

Keeping Traditional Theater Alive in Sierra Leone


Nina DeVries reporting for VOA:
 (N. deVries/VOA)
A well-known theater director, called Charlie Haffner, in Sierra Leone is inspiring people to be proud of their culture through traditional theater. He’s tired of Sierra Leoneons leaving for greener pastures and the negative images often shown of his country. It’s challenging, as interest in traditional theater has decreased but he’s determined to keep it alive...[more]

Made in Africa: Industrial Policy in Ethiopia


A book by Arkebe Oqubay. Reviewed by Nicolas van de Walle in FP:
Ethiopia has enjoyed double-digit economic growth rates for the last decade, establishing itself as the fastest-growing economy in Africa. As a senior official in the ruling regime for the last few decades, Oqubay has been one of the architects of its economic policy, and his book offers interesting insights into the leadership’s ideas and motivations, especially when it comes to industry and exports. However, most of Ethiopia’s recent growth has come in the agricultural and service sectors, and so Oqubay’s argument that industrialization represents the key to economic success seems misplaced and mostly aspirational...[more]

'Jesus Hasn't Saved Us': The Young Black Women Returning to Ancestral Religions


Yomi Adegoke writing in Vice:
Christianity still exerts a powerful force in many black communities, but some young women are turning their back on the faith and returning to the older, traditional religions of their ancestors.
More here

After Brexit, now is the time to invest in Africa


From Karen Frances Eng:
How will Brexit affect Africa? We ask Ghanaian entrepreneur and pan-African macro finance investor Sangu Delle, who foresees increased uncertainty, but also resilience — and maybe even opportunity.
More here

Attend the Future Health Conference in #Nigeria


From Nigeria Health Watch the Future Health Conference:
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NuVu Studio Breaks the "Classroom" Model


Slice of MIT reports:
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Imagine a school without classrooms, subjects, or grades. To some, it might resemble a six-hour long recess, filled with chaos, spitballs, and name-calling. Yet to three MIT alumni, such an environment looks like a hotbed of innovation.

NuVu Studio in Cambridge—founded in 2010 by Saeed Arida, David Wang, and Saba Ghole —aims to break the mold of contemporary education and foster creativity above all else for school-age children.

“When we go to traditional schools, things feel frozen in time,” says Arida, NuVU chief excitement officer. “The minute people come in the door, it becomes really clear to them how different this environment is from their traditional environment.”
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Most Medical Equipment In Low-Income Countries Is Donated. And Most Of It Doesn't Work


Over at NPR Nahid Bhadelia reports on an issue we have covered previously:
"Oh, we have a hematology analyzer but it stopped working," the lab technician said as he pointed to a covered tabletop medical equipment in the corner used to measure blood count levels — an important but simple tool for a community where anemia and infections are prevalent.

The busted hematology analyzer, which I encountered during a visit to a hospital in the rural Kono district in Sierra Leone, has plenty of company in the hall of nonfunctional medical equipment. The landscape of the West African countries I've worked in — not only Sierra Leone but also Liberia and Nigeria — is strewn with broken machines. Sometimes they bear the name of the nonprofit group or aid agency that made the donation. I've seen the same problem during two stints in a rural Nicaraguan hospital in 2005 and 2008.
More here

Afripedia at New Inc


From New Inc in NY:
Founded by Teddy Goitom and Senay Berhe, Afripedia is a platform and a visual guide to art, film, photography, fashion, design, music, and contemporary culture from African creatives worldwide. allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="" width="560">

African Identity & Confidence


Emmanuel Akyeampong and Hippolyte Fofack write:
The rise of a prosperous Africa will ultimately be based on the emergence of an assured African, confident in knowledge and identity, at home in Africa and the world at large. It was this spirit that surprised the Portuguese visitors to Kilwa in 1500.
More here

Why Africa Doesn’t Work - @ayittey


George Ayittey writes:
In a recent posting, I indicated that Nigeria/Africa does not need new kinds of leaders but rather strong functioning INSTITUTIONS For governance, there are 7 critical institutions...[continue reading]